Safe cooking temperatures for meat

I am asked frequently to what temperature meat is to be cook to for optimum safety and the removal of harmful bacteria.  I, too, often wonder and second guess myself on this topic.  I certainly hate over-cooking meat but I want to serve safe food to my family.  First and foremost, invest in a simple instant read meat thermometer, it’s an essential kitchen tool.  Secondly, rest time matters.  When meat rests, it can actually increase in temperature up to 30 degrees!!!  I found this shocking,  It has however, explained why my beef often fails to be medium rare and comes out medium to even medium well…not good. I’ve researched and come up with a good, easy to read and complete guide that I’ve included here.  It is from www.foodsafety.gov.  I hope this helps you, as it helped me.

From www.foodsafety.gov

Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures

Use this chart and a food thermometer to ensure that meat, poultry, seafood, and other cooked foods reach a safe minimum internal temperature. Remember, you can’t tell whether meat is safely cooked by looking at it. Any cooked, uncured red meats – including pork – can be pink, even when the meat has reached a safe internal temperature.

Why the Rest Time is Important

After you remove meat from a grill, oven, or other heat source, allow it to rest for the specified amount of time. During the rest time, its temperature remains constant or continues to rise, which destroys harmful germs.

Category Food Temperature (°F)  Rest Time 
Ground Meat & Meat Mixtures Beef, Pork, Veal, Lamb 160 None
Turkey, Chicken 165 None
Fresh Beef, Veal, Lamb Steaks, roasts, chops 145 3 minutes
Poultry Chicken & Turkey, whole 165 None
Poultry breasts, roasts 165 None
Poultry thighs, legs, wings 165 None
Duck & Goose 165 None
Stuffing (cooked alone or in bird) 165 None
Pork and Ham Fresh pork 145 3 minutes
Fresh ham (raw) 145 3 minutes
Precooked ham (to reheat) 140 None
Eggs & Egg Dishes Eggs Cook until yolk and white are firm None
Egg dishes 160 None
Leftovers & Casseroles Leftovers 165 None
Casseroles 165 None
Seafood Fin Fish 145 or cook until flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork. None
Shrimp, lobster, and crabs Cook until flesh is pearly and opaque. None
Clams, oysters, and mussels Cook until shells open during cooking. None
Scallops Cook until flesh is milky white or opaque and firm. None

 

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